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Hi, i've just been looking through the 2006 hornby catalogue and have noticed that on the skaledale open coal deposit and coal shed, the track level seems to be raised above ground level. Would it be normal to have a raised track section above ground level to access one of these or would the storage area itself normally be below ground level? Just trying to figure out how I could incorporate this into my layout.
 

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I presume you mean the picture on pages 116/7 at the start of the Freight Rolling Stock section.
The 'Open Coal Deposit' - known best in the North of England as a 'staithe' - was above ground level so that the coal, emptied through a trap-door in the bottom of a wagon, was then easily accessible to be loaded into sacks, weighed and put on a lorry. There are a few examples still about, noticeably at Goathland on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (which is also the prototype for R8629 Station Building on page 148 of the 2006 catalogue), and remains at Shildon, now the 'Locomotion' museum site, although here it is only the stone piers left.
Because only a few wagons would be moved onto the staithe at a time, and at low speed, there could be short but fierce gradients leading up onto them. Or as at Goathland the lie of the land would be used to minimise the gradient needed.

Hope this helps.
John Webb
 

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Thanks John, yes, it is that picture in the catalogue. That explains it perfectly, or rather the "short but fierce gradients leading up to them" bit does! I was wondering if this was normal as I thought these might have been used to load the coal to the engine tender from above somehow, the other option (coal dropping from the wagons) just didn't seem to make sense otherwise.
I didn't realise these were used more for coal delivery and distribution elsewhere. As I said, I assumed these might have a purpose like the water tower, to fill the engine tenders with coal i.e. early automation!

I guess i'll have to have a rethink about where I could put those buildings now!
 

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The thing to remember about coal drops is that they were almost always used by the North Eastern Railway and on the other hand they were quite rare elsewhere.

The example at Goathland, the remains of one at Shildon and also the resited installation at Beamish are all on NER territory. The NER used hopper wagons and wagons with side doors were not usually used on domestic coal deliveries. This situation continued right through to the 1960s in the NE Region. It appears that bulk lime could also be delivered in the same manner.

Colombo
 

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One of the few similar arrangements I've seen away from the NER area is partly preserved at Bridgnorth, on the Seven Valley Railway. There is a stone wall forming the rear and ends of the recess over which the track was placed. Instead of being supported by stone pillars there are timber ones.

And on a large scale I think at least part of the the Coal Yard at St Pancras had the coal wagons above the road level, as the passenger station was, although in this case they unloaded through the side of the wagon rather than the bottom.

Regards,
John Webb
 
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